Wednesday, August 03, 2011

So that's what road rage looks like

Apparently, there really are crazy drivers who harass people.

Now that I have experienced that, I will no longer joke about road rage.  Because it's. not. funny.

I had dropped off Zoe (I will be eternally grateful that she wasn't in the car) and was headed to work, thinking about a concall I had scheduled at 8.  At that part of my commute, there are three lanes on the road.  The far right lane ends as a turn-only lane.  I was in the far left lane.  I'm always aware of other cars around me, so he must have come up pretty fast for me not to realize that he was in that far right lane.  I used my signal, checked my blind spot, and began to move to the middle lane.  Simultaneously, he moved from the right lane to the middle lane.  Halfway over, I spotted him, and hit the gas so as to avoid cutting him off.  Oddly, instead of braking, he too hit the gas, almost hit my car, and then laid on the horn.

Okay, that happens.  I get stuff like that.  We both want to be in the lane at the same time.  He's in the back, I'm in the front.  I speed up, he slows down, we both get the lane.

That, apparently, was not suitable for him.

He whipped his car into the far left lane and came up alongside me.  With my windows rolled up, and the radio on, I could hear him screaming expletives.  Okay.  Dude.  I didn't look at him.  Usually that's enough to diffuse a situation.  He didn't go away, though.  I slowed down, and he slowed down.  I sped up, and he sped up.  Holy jeez.

At that point, we were coming up on a red light and the last thing I wanted was to be stopped at a light with this asshole.  We had cars in front and behind us, so I'd effectively be trapped.  Right before the light, there's a quick turn into a shopping plaza.  OfficeMax, Home Depot, an empty Wal-Mart store, etc.  I checked my blind spot and turned into the parking lot.  I figured he'd keep on going down the main road and I'd come back out and continue to work and that would be that.

Except he didn't continue down the road.  From the left lane, he cut people off to take the next entrance into the parking lot.  With me.

As I'm driving around this parking lot, trying to evade a crazy person who is determined to do something (and not knowing what, exactly, he intended made it even scarier), I started to panic.  My hands began to shake and my heart was pounding and all I could think was, "What do I do now?  What do I do now?"  I don't know where any of the police stations are around here, but there is a fire station just across the road.  All I wanted to do was get there.  The lot we were in was completely empty, as none of the stores had opened yet.  Not a great choice for me to go in there, but I really didn't believe that he would actually follow me.  Cut people off, which, now that I think about it, was what I think started this whole thing to begin with - he thought I cut him off - to come after me.  I turned the car around and headed toward the exit that would allow me to get to the fire station.

Which is when he flew across the parking lot (I had misjudged where the medians were, and thought he'd have to go around and remain behind me), and blocked my car from exiting.  When he got out of his car and started coming towards me is when I wondered if I would actually have to hit him, with my car, to save myself.  I wondered if he had a gun.  I wondered how this was all going to end.  I wondered an awful lot in a very short amount of time.

As he's screaming, and I'm trying desperately to remain calm, all I could think of was the only weapon I had besides my car.

My phone.

I held it up in the windshield, where he could see it, pointed to it, and started obviously dialing.  He panicked, got back in his car, and tore out of the parking lot.

Which is when I thought, "I need to get his license plate number."

Since I was shaking, hyperventilating, crying, and too scared to get anywhere close to him, I got the numbers wrong.


The police officer told me that without witnesses, even if I had gotten the plate right there wasn't much they could do.  It comes down to one word against another, with no evidence.  I thought that at least a phone call from the police would maybe scare him enough to not harass anyone else again, but I don't even have that comfort.

I have to drive to Kansas City tonight, by myself.  I don't really want to even drive home, much less across the state.

I will get over it.  People always do.  But for right now, I'll just sit quietly at my desk and cry, and try to stop shaking so damn much.  Needless to say, I missed the 8 a.m. concall.

The police officer was so nice.  He said, "I know it's upsetting that we can't do anything.  But guys like catches up with them.  It always does.  And I hope I'm there when it happens."  Yeah, I do, too.  With a bunch of your cop friends.



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